General advice for supporter of adult daughter

annette1957

New Here
My adult daughter has been diagnosed with CPTSD and is currently having EDMR therapy. After each session she feels overwhelmed and alone. She says she needs me to support her but I'm at a loss to know what to do. She lives alone and I don't live nearby. If I ring after a therapy session she says
" I just shouldn't be going through these things on my own"
"I'm not feeling supported"
" I need to feel held"

I listen and empathise but I don't know what else I can do. She says she has told me what she needs but I just don't get it.
I say things like
"I hear what you say, It is really hard and you are trying your best" and she tells me "It's not about being heard its about being supported".

Our phone conversations have long pauses because I can't think of the right response and we just keep going round in circles so I feel I've said everything I can. Then she says 'I don't know why we are on the phone right now' so I say 'If I'm not helping I'll say goodbye' but she doesn't say goodbye so I feel I can't hang up as she is still there waiting for the support she needs.

Can anyone offer any advice please?
 

Chris-duck

MyPTSD Pro
Can you ask her when she's feeling calm what she needs from you in those moments? Everyone is different so I don't think we can give you an exact answer. But maybe she can say what she's needing when she's not feeling crap at the time.

Sounds like you are being supportive and I'm glad she has someone like you around.
 

Friday

Moderator
Most people are pretty wrecked for 12-24hrs after EMDR (and trauma therapy in general). Speaking a mom, since you can probably relate? Having gone though therapy that day... It’s pretty similar to the exhaustion after not sleeping for several weeks/months nursing a newborn. All you reeeeeally need? Is. One. Nights. Sleep. That’s all. And you’ll be back to yourself again. For at least a few days. But until you get it? Cross-eyed, zoned out, overly emotional/emotionally flat, wanting what seems like the simplest things that noooooo one will do “right” ((It’s not possible for anyone to do anything “right” when you’re that tired.)) Also speaking as a mom, but from the other side? IE dealing with someone who’s just had trauma therapy? It’s a loooooot like dealing with a toddler who has missed their nap. And is all kinds of discombobulated. And grumpy/clingy/go-away/all things are wrong. Wrong! Wrong, wrong, wrong.


" I need to feel held"
Send her something to HOLD (not the same as being held, but close) for after EMDR sessions, & call the next day.

You know your daughter best, so whether that ‘to hold’ is a ginormous tree frog/teddy/similar, or a polished rock... or closer to being held is a special blanket to wrap up in? Is something to send her, that’s you, and her, bridging the distance as phones (and quite frankly, being there in person) just wouldn’t. Because exhausted. And the irrationality that comes from exhaustion.

Can you ask her when she's feeling calm what she needs from you in those moments?
Also? This.
 

Sweetpea76

Moderator
Can you ask her when she's feeling calm what she needs from you in those moments?

I agree with this^^^.

Also, you’re being more supportive than you think by being patient and continuing to be there for her through the circles you’re going around. Sometimes there isn’t going to be anything you can say or do that is “right”, and sometimes as a supporter you’re the one they’re going to be irritated with the most. You being patient and loving through that will eventually register.
 

DharmaGirl

MyPTSD Pro
I have CPTSD and I think you're wonderful for wanting to be so supportive. I agree with everyone who said to ask her what she needs to feel supported since what she's saying is very vague. Just the fact that you are asking the question is so supportive I could cry. My mother doesn't believe in PTSD for non combat people, and is not interested in learning anything about it. Not that that helps you.

Sometimes people with mental illnesses want their friends and family to be like a therapist to them, and don't understand that you can't and shouldn't try to fulfill that role for them. I know EMDR can be rough, and some people have a talk therapist as well as an EMDR therapist. That might be more helpful in the long run. When I went through trauma therapy I needed to sleep the rest of the day so that's what I did. Maybe she needs a list of ideas to self sooth, but I don't think you should suggest that. That's where a talk therapist comes in.

It seems to me that you are being very supportive, and she is not getting it. I'm sorry she feels bad, but asking for support without defining what that means, and then telling you you aren't doing it right sounds a little mean to me.
 

Freida

Sponsor
I've been doing emdr for about 3 years and also have a regular t and yet sometimes I still feel like no one gets it and I"m all alone. Especially right after a treatment -- nightmares and flashbacks and just wanting someone to give a damn. But i often can't figure out what that means because most of the time I don't know what I need in the moment. Well, that's not exactly true... I want my brain to stop exploding and I know that's not going to happen for a day or two.

I like the idea of talking to her when she is calmer and really like the bear/blanket idea. But even when she is calm she may not know what will work and what won't. It takes a while to figure that out.

Is there any chance for you to go to a session with her and have you, her and T discuss what you can do to help?
 

annette1957

New Here
I've been doing emdr for about 3 years and also have a regular t and yet sometimes I still feel like no one gets it and I"m all alone. Especially right after a treatment -- nightmares and flashbacks and just wanting someone to give a damn. But i often can't figure out what that means because most of the time I don't know what I need in the moment. Well, that's not exactly true... I want my brain to stop exploding and I know that's not going to happen for a day or two.

I like the idea of talking to her when she is calmer and really like the bear/blanket idea. But even when she is calm she may not know what will work and what won't. It takes a while to figure that out.

Is there any chance for you to go to a session with her and have you, her and T discuss what you can do to help?
Thanks for sharing how you feel after EMDR. I have spoken to my daughter’s therapist but not with my daughter present. The T suggests grounding techniques but if I mention those to my daughter when she’s is feeling bad after therapy she says “Why should I always be the one that has to do all the work?” I think she knows that only she can heal herself ( with the help of the T) but it is just a cry from the heart because she is so worn out afterwards.

Thanks everyone. Tomorrow while she is calm, before therapy ( which is the next day) I will try to ask my daughter about what she thinks will help, but it is difficult. I don’t like to talk to her about it if she is feeling ok as it might upset her and I don’t want to upset her if she’s is ok ! I’m sure you see my problem. Any way I will try and bring the subject up. I will use your suggestions. At least I can reassure her that feeling overwhelmed etc after therapy is to be expected, but I guess that may not help if you just don’t want to feel that way anymore. I think she would find it easier to bear if she felt she was making progress but unfortunately she feels she isn’t at present ( although she did make some progress to begin with). Anyway she’s had decided to give this therapist another 4 sessions then she might review and decide to try something or someone else ( she has been working so hard with this T for over 7 months now)
 

annette1957

New Here
I re-read something my daughter sent and I would like to share it with you in case it might help you think of anything else :

Last week when I said “ I don’t know what to do to support you” my daughter sent me this text message :

“But it's really simple- I just need support and I need you to come up with some creative solutions for that. Feeling unsupported is very triggering for me so these conversations aren't easy.”

May be the idea of using a blanket/ cuddly toy may be the sort of ‘creative solutions’ she means but other than that I can’t think of anything else, except may be watching a film ‘together’ ( we don’t live near each other) or something similar ?

any other ideas please ?
 

Freida

Sponsor
when she’s is feeling bad after therapy
ya... the after therapy drama. It's hard to explain what it feels like, but it is really awful and there are many, many days I tell myself I'm never going back. Then I calm down after a day or so and I can acknowledge that it is good for me and think about what my supporters can do to help.

Caution though -- one of the things I ask from my supporters is that they leave me alone. Completely, totally, don't make noise in my presence type of alone. No checking in on me to see if I want dinner, or saying you are there for me, or blah blah blah. I need total radio silence and that can be kinda hard on them
Why should I always be the one that has to do all the work?”
uhmmm... because she's the one with ptsd. Not meaning to sound harsh but this is her problem - she needs to own it. Supporters cant solve it for us - we have to do the work. No matter how it sucks - its up to us.
it is just a cry from the heart because she is so worn out afterwards.
yep --- it is exhausting so it will be up to her to figure out what coping skills help her get thru it. Her therapist should be on top of this - especially when using emdr. If she isn't coping well they may have to have a conversation about slowing down.
 

DharmaGirl

MyPTSD Pro
Interesting. You most definitely DO NOT have to come up with some creative solutions for that. That is HER job. I never put my mother through the ringer like this when I was doing trauma therapy, which is why I feel like she is allowing herself to play the victim and throw all the responsibility in your court. Perhaps you can suggest she discuss what she needs with her T, and then give you a list. Really, I understand what she is going through but she needs to start to take some responsibility for her own recovery.

One of the things I learned in therapy was just because you feel something, doesn't make it true. I know I sound harsh and I apologize, but having PTSD doesn't give you the right to be demanding of others.

Edit to say cross posted with @Freida.
 

Freida

Sponsor
“But it's really simple- I just need support and I need you to come up with some creative solutions for that. Feeling unsupported is very triggering for me so these conversations aren't e
Ya -- no. She should be working with her t to come up with how people can support her - not expecting to guilt others into "be creative" and do it for her.

which is why I feel like she is allowing herself to play the victim and throw all the responsibility in your court.
yep. She's deflecting --- which will not help her in the long run.

One question tho -- you said she has CPTSD. Is there any chance she is connecting you to her traumas during her sessions? Because if so it might be worth a meet with her t to sort out if you are the person who can actually be seen as supportive in her mind right now, no matter what you try.
 
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